Study Suggests A Supernova Exploded Near Earth About 2.5 Million Years Ago, Possibly Causing An Extinction Event

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Supernovas are amazingly bright explosions of massive stars at the end of their lives. During the gravitational collapse, the outer layers of the star are pushed away, and chemical elements formed inside the dying star are released into space. This cosmic dust rains down onto the Earth continuously, eventually becoming part of sediments deposited in the sea.

Research published in the journal Physical Review Letters used the concentrations of elements formed in an exploding star and preserved in oceanic sediments to hypothesize that a supernova exploded near Earth just 2.5 million years ago.

The authors, led by Dr. Gunther Korschinek from the Technical University of Munich, focused their study on ferromanganese crusts collected in the Pacific Ocean. Ferromanganese crusts form on the bottom of the ocean by layers of iron- and manganese-oxides precipitating out of seawater. The studied samples started to grow some 20 million years ago at depths ranging from 5,200 feet to 3.18 miles (approximately 1.600 to 5.120 meters). The researchers measured the concentrations of iron-60 and manganese-53 isotopes in the hardened crust. They differ from Earth’s most common form of the elements by their varying number of neutrons in the atomic nucleus. Both isotopes are synthesized in large stars shortly before supernova explosions and are unstable, decaying completely after 4 to 15 million years. Their presence in sediment samples is evidence for Earth passing through a cloud of cosmic dust generated by an exploding star in Рgeologically speaking Рrecent times.

Nasa captures an exploding supernova on camera

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Take a look at this brilliant video from Nasa which shows the star exploding!

Nasa has captured an exploding supernova on camera.

The supernova called SN 2018gv is located around 70 million light-years away from Earth, in the spiral galaxy NGC 2525.

A supernova is a pretty spectacular cosmic event, which happens when a star reaches the end of its life cycle and collapses in on itself.

This causes an incredibly powerful explosion which can send shockwaves across the galaxy, and can even create black holes.

According to Nasa, supernova SN 2018gv unleashed a surge of energy that was five billion suns brighter than our Sun. That’s pretty bright!

The scientists were able to record the exploding star using the Hubble Space Telescope.

galaxy.NASA/ESA/ESA/A. Riess/SH0ES Team

Supernova SN 2018gv can be seen here as a bright light in the bottom left corner

Nasa have been tracking the supernova since February 2018, to help them monitor the expansion rate of the universe.

The scientists used something called time-lapse photography to capture the explosion, where lots of pictures were taken over a year, and then turned into a video.

In the time-lapse, scientists could see the star shining brightly near the edge of the galaxy, before it exploded, becoming a supernova, then fading from sight.

“No Earthly fireworks display can compete with this supernova, captured in its fading glory by the Hubble Space Telescope,” said Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and Johns Hopkins University in a statement.

(Video from: NASA, ESA, J. DePasquale (STScI), M. Kornmesser and M. Zamani (ESA/Hubble), A. Riess (STScI/JHU) and the SH0ES team, and the Digitized Sky Survey)

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The Hubble Space Telescope Observes Spectacular Supernova Time-Lapse

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Pictured here, in an image released on October 1, 2020, is part of the captivating galaxy NGC 2525. Located nearly 70 million light-years from Earth, this galaxy is part of Puppis’ constellation in the southern hemisphere. Together with the Carina and the Vela constellations, it makes up an image of the Argo from ancient greek mythology. On the left, a brilliant supernova is visible in the picture. The supernova is formally known as SN2018gv and was first spotted in mid-January 2018. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured the supernova in NGC 2525 as part of one of its major investigations; measuring the expansion rate of the Universe, which can help answer fundamental questions about our Universe’s very nature. Supernovae like this one can be used as cosmic tape measures, allowing astronomers to calculate their galaxies’ distance. NASA/ESA/UPI

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Discovery of iron-60 and manganese-53 substantiates supernova 2.5 million years ago — ScienceDaily

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When the brightness of the star Betelgeuse dropped dramatically a few months ago, some observers suspected an impending supernova — a stellar explosion that could also cause damage on Earth. While Betelgeuse has returned to normal, physicists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have found evidence of a supernova that exploded near the Earth around 2.5 million years ago.

The life of stars with a mass more than ten times that of our sun ends in a supernova, a colossal stellar explosion. This explosion leads to the formation of iron, manganese and other heavy elements.

In layers of a manganese crust that are around two and a half million years old a research team led by physicists from the Technical University of Munich has now confirmed the existence of both iron-60 and manganese-53.

“The increased concentrations of manganese-53 can be taken as the “smoking gun” — the ultimate proof that this supernova really did take place,” says first author Dr. Gunther Korschinek.

While a very close supernova could inflict massive harm to life on Earth, this one was far enough away. It only caused a boost in cosmic rays over several thousand years. “However, this can lead to increased cloud formation,” says co-author Dr. Thomas Faestermann. “Perhaps there is a link to the Pleistocene epoch, the period of the Ice Ages, which began 2.6 million years ago.”

Ultra-trace analysis

Typically, manganese occurs on earth as manganese-55. Manganese-53, on the other hand, usually stems from cosmic dust, like that found in the asteroid belt of our solar system. This dust rains down onto the earth continuously; but only rarely do we perceive larger specks of dust that glow as meteorites.

New sediment layers that accumulate year for year on the sea floor preserve the distribution of the elements in manganese